Vicarious Thrills through Social Networking

Joining a social network is a little like having a telephone with a ‘party line.’ For those of you too young to know, a party line was a way to serve sparse populations in the expansion years of telephone service. The expense of the infrastructure (all those wires strung on miles of telephone poles in rural areas) were borne by several families sharing the same line. In our case in West Texas in the 1940s and 1950s, there were eight families on one line, all sharing the same number but each having a different ring. This required more than a little common courtesy to allow the other parties their privacy, which was universally NOT adhered to. If you happened to pick up the phone when the line was busy, you heard both sides of a conversation. Ah, the thrill of a conversation heard while muffled by your hand held over the mouthpiece!

Social Networking is a little like that, except that we can, within certain broad parameters, pick and choose who can ‘listen in’ and how much of our ‘posts’ (or conversations) others may see.

It has been my fascination this last week to ‘listen in’ on adoptive families waiting to bring home children they have already adopted who are still in Haiti. Because of the way international adoption is handled, adoptions are processed in the country of origin of the child. Each country handles the process differently, and the receiving country has to approve of the legal action as well. (This is not so different in domestic adoptions, except the process requires input from the sending state and the receiving state,) Haiti has a long process from start to finish during which time the children wait for two or more years before they can come home to a country they’ve never seen and can hardly imagine. Because of the earthquake in Haiti, there’s a good chance that this long wait is about to be shortened for those Haitian children whose adoptions are already ‘in the pipeline.’

Having your children held in another country for years after they are legally yours is a very difficult thing to endure. I’ve watched my online friends hold garage sales, book sales, gift wrapping paper drives and all kinds of ways to raise money for their trips to visit their children during the wait and / or to send clothes, toys, diapers and formula to help other orphans who are waiting for their forever family. Their posts have the effect of bringing their friends (and other party line readers) to vicariously live out the hopes and dreams of adoptive parents everywhere. Basically, this has been an education for many of those friends. I’ll bet the questions common to adoptions everywhere: “Can you love a child not born of your body?” “Can you love a child who looks different from you?” are being answered every time these waiting parents post an update. When they waited those first horrific hours, hoping for a word of safety about their absent family members, we held our breath, too. When they asked for prayers for the safety of their children, we prayed. When they asked us to write our congressmen and women to encourage the State Department to approve emergency visas, we made calls and sent faxes. Now, just days from the children’s arrivals that we hope and pray for, we are banding together en masse to bundle good wishes and gift cards into the hands of the parents who will have to travel somewhere not yet determined to meet their children and bring them home.

Historically, there was another time the nation watched from the sidelines for planes bearing children to be adopted to our shores. At the end of the Vietnam war, as the government in Saigon fell, children and babies were placed on ‘the last plane out of Saigon’ where they would fly across the world to a new life.
Those Vietnam Baby Drop children grew up. One of them has recently edited a book for and by teenaged adoptees. In an upcoming blogpost I’ll review Pieces of Me: Who do I Want to Be? by Robert L. Ballard (EMKPress, 2009). In the meantime, we’re praying for the safe arrival of this precious cargo from Haiti.


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One Response to “Vicarious Thrills through Social Networking”

  1. bethkoz Says:

    UPDATE: Lena and Bob are on their way to an ‘undisclosed location’ to pick up their boys, who are somewhere in the USA tonight!

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